One dozen provinces, please

Published: February 4, 2012

We divided Pakistan into 12 provinces and made Islamabad the federal capital. PHOTO: QAZI USMAN/EXPRESS

Recently, the voices calling for the division of Punjab have been getting louder and louder. But do we really need to? What will the consequences be? What are the advantages?

My personal view is that many people are demanding division for their petty agendas, but the step is not in the larger interest of Pakistan.

Keeping personal interests aside and treating the matter without bias we have come to the conclusion that:

  1. Pakistan has certainly developed but not uniformly, many smaller cities have been overlooked (not only in Punjab but in all provinces)
  2. Facilities are not provided equally to people of all regions
  3. A lot of potential is being wasted
  4. The politics of language, colour, and ethnicity are still strong in Pakistan; we have not been able to rise above Punjabi, Pakhtoon, Sindhi or Baloch nationalism

Dividing Punjab on a linguistic basis will add one more nationalism to the above mentioned list –  Seraiki – which is destructive for our unity and development. Pakistan has at least 32 languages. Punjabi is spoken by 44% of Pakistan (almost 90 million) and Chitrali is spoken in just one district (less than 0.5 million). A division will not only further divide us as a nation, but will give rise to more politics and hamper economic growth since many linguistic based provinces will not be economically viable.

However, if the provinces are divided in the best interest of Pakistan, many benefits can be achieved:

  1. More provinces means more cities will be developed and all the population load which is coming into either Karachi or Lahore can be reduced.
  2. More people will be empowered to choose their destiny.
  3. There will be a better distribution of resources in Pakistan.
  4. It may promote Pakistani nationalism – rather than provincial nationalism – if the division is not based on languages.
  5. It will probably allow politicians to seriously work for their people, once they don’t have Big Brother Punjab to blame for everything.

These reasons compelled us to come up with a new (suggested) provincial division for Pakistan. We do not claim to be experts, but have employed common sense and proposed this division in the best interest of our country.

We divided Pakistan into 12 provinces and made Islamabad the federal capital. For the large part, we did not divide the existing districts except for in a few places. Railway links, roads, rivers and canal flows were also considered while we made these proposed changes.

The names of the new provinces are not based on caste, language or any one identity in most cases but on the basis of history and geography. Presently, the names of all the provinces except Sindh do not have much historical connotation.

Critical issues like the Kalabagh Dam are not resolved due to Sindhi-Punjabi politics. Once the new proposed provinces are made, many of these issues will be resolved amicably as the Indus River will not be under the “Takht-e-Lahore” rule. Most of the proposed provinces are linguistically heterogeneous and strongly bonded geographically. Many smaller languages will also have a chance to flourish because majority languages will not overshadow minority languages as they do at present.

Below are the suggested new provinces for Pakistan:


Here are some details about these provinces:

Cholistan province
Capital: Bahawalpur
Linguistic composition: Seraiki, Punjabi, Urdu
Districts: Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan
Current estimated population: 10 million

Reasoning: Geographically on the right side of the Sutlej River and linguistically heterogeneous. Currently, this area is under developed, underutilised and much further from the existing capital Lahore. The new capital, Bahawalpur, will be in the middle of the province and is already linked with the N5 National Highway and main railway line and also has a high court bench.

Ravi province
Capital: Lahore
Linguistic composition: Punjabi, Urdu
Districts: Lahore, Kasur, Okara, Nankana sb, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Faisalabad (partly)
Current estimated population: 36.4 Million

Reasoning: It’s on the right side of Chenab

Gandhara province
Capital: Joharabad (District Khushab)
Linguistic Composition: Potohari, Seraiki, Punjabi, Pashto,
Districts: Rawalpindi (partly), Jehlum, Attock, Chakwal, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha, Khushab, Jhang, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Layyah, DG Khan (partly)
Current estimated population: 24 Million

Reasoning: The underdeveloped western Punjab area would greatly benefit from developing new cities like Joharabad. Joharabad is in the center of the province. On the North of Joharabad is Potohari, on the East is Punjab and on the South are the Seraiki dominant districts. Therefore, the new provincial capital will be the meeting point of all three rich cultures and will be the torch bearer of development and homogeneity for this province. The new capital Joharabad will not face water shortages as river Jehlum passes by it.

Panjnad province
Capital: Multan
Linguistic composition: Seraiki, Punjabi, Urdu, Balochi
Districts: Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Vehari, Pakpattan, Faisalabad (partly), Toba Tek Singh, Muzaffargarh, DG Khan (partly), Rajanpur
Estimated population: 24 million

Reasoning: Multan is already the cultural and political center for southern Punjab. The Panjnad province will become the focus of agriculture and dairy products. Multan is also in the middle of the proposed province and is well connected with near by towns/cities as well as the rest of Pakistan. The proposed Panjnad province will have a significant punjabi province in north eastern districts, urdu in the urban areas, Balochi in western districts & Saraik in central & western districts.

Bolan province
Capital: Quetta
Linguistic composition: Pashto, Balochi, Brahvi
Districts: Quetta, Ziarat, Mastung, Qila Abdullah, Pashin, Lora Lai, Barkhan, Musakhel, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Shirani, Harnai, Sibi, Kolhu, Dera Bugti, Jaffarabad, Nasirabad, Jhal Magsi, Kacchi (Bolan)
Estimated population: 6 million

Reasoning: The Bolan province will be approximately the same as the British Balochistan of the colonial era. Veteran leaders from Balochistan, like former prime minister Mir Zafar Ullah Khan Jamali and Mehmood Khan Achakzai also once expressed their approval in dividing Balochistan in the Quetta and Kalat division of the 1970s. The heterogenous Bolan province is an amalgamation of the Pashtun, Balochi and Brahvi culture. Quetta has representation from all three cultures.

Makran province
Capital: Khuzdar
Linguistic composition: Balochi and Brahvi
Districts: Khuzdar, Kalat, Noshki, Chaghi, Kharan, Washuk, Panjgor, Turbat, Gawadar, Awaran, Lasbela
Estimated population: 3 million

Reasoning: The Makran province is one of the richest areas of Pakistan due to mineral resources. It also has the Gawadar Port and the Gadani ship breaking yard. Saindak and Rekodek are also located in this province. The proposed provincial capital, Khuzdar, is already well connected with Quetta, Karachi and Larkana through the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) road and M8 Motorway. Within the proposed province, all the major cities like Lasbela, Turbat, Gawadar and Kalat are also connected with Khuzdar.

Khyber province
Capital: Peshawar
Linguistic composition: Pashto, Saraiki
Districts: Peshawar, Noshera, Charsadda, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, DI Khan, Tank
Estimated population: 9.75 million

Reasoning: The proposed Kalabagh Dam will benefit the southern districts of the proposed Khyber province, Tank and DI Khan at the cost of some land of the Nowshera district. Royalty from the Kalabagh, Munda Dam and also the natural gas resorvoir of Karak will make the province economically viable.

Abaseen province
Capital: Mardan
Linguistic composition: Pashto, Hindko, Kohistani, Chitrali
Districts: Mardan, Sawabi, Haripur, Abottabad, Manshera, Torghar, Batagram, Kohistan, Shangla, Sawat, Bonair, Dir bala, Dir payin, Malakand, Chitral
Estimated population: 13 million

Reasoning: Comprising of the northern areas, this province has the potential to truly boost the tourism industry. The Tarbela and Bhasha Dams will provide substantial revenue for the development of the province and also have high potential to generate hydro-electricity. Mardan is chosen as the capital because it is in the planar district and is accessible all year round from both the Hazara and Malakand divisions.

Khorasan province
Capital: Torkham
Linguistic composition: Pashto
Districts: Bajaur, Mohmand, Torkham (Khyber Agency), Kurram, Orakzai, North waziristan, South Waziristan
Estimated population: 5 million

Reasoning: Making the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) into a province will start the era of economic growth and amalgamation of the region with the rest of the country. It will also help to remove the sense of depravity among the people.

Sindh Uttar province
Capital: Sukkur
Linguistic composition: Sindhi
Districts: Sukkar, Ghotki, Khairpur, Noshero Feroz, Shikarpur, Larkana, Kambar, Kashmor, Jacobabad, Dadu, Jamshoro (partly)
Estimated population: 13.5 million

Reasoning: Other than Hyderabad, interior Sindh is also one of the most deprived areas of the country; even after having so much potential in various fields, it is backward and underdeveloped. Sukkur is already the economic and cultural center of northern Sindh and has the full potential to become one of the key economic cities of Pakistan. It is also well connected with Karachi, Quetta and northern Pakistan by road, air and railway.

Sindh Dakshin province
Capital: Hyderabad
Linguistic composition: Sindhi, Urdu
Districts: Karachi, Jamshoro (partly), Hyderabad, Matiari, TM Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Mirpur Khas, Umar Kot, Tharparkar, Badin, Thatta, Nawabshah, Sanghar
Estimated population: 26 million.

Reasoning: The third largest city (in 1951) and the historic capital of Sindh in the pre-colonial era, Hyderabad has lost its glory by being overshadowed by Karachi. It is also the convergence point of Sindhi and Urdu culture, the two main cultures of the proposed province. Karachi is overburdened by being the port and also the only industrial city in southern Pakistan. Shifting the capital to Hyderabad will allow it to flourish while also reducing the population inflow in Karachi.

Karakoram Province
Capital: Gilgit
Linguistic composition: Shina, Burushaski, Balti
Districts: Gilgit, Diamir, Astor, Skardu, Hunza-Nagar, Ghanchi, Girghiz,
Estimated population: 1.8 million

Reasoning: Making the present Gilgit-Baltistan a province will give its people the same rights as the rest of Pakistan and start new era of economic and cultural development in the area.

Federal capital: Islamabad and Rawalpindi city
Current estimated population: 2.5 Million

Logic: Rawalpindi city is surrounded by Islamabad from three sides, so making it part of Islamabad is a natural choice.

Here are the benefits of this proposed division:

  1.  The biggest benefit will be the development of new cities. Currently, the population inflow is only in Karachi and some cities of central Punjab. Cities like Multan, Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Sahiwal and others may have the potential to become modern cities but remain under developed as the economic growth is polarised in Karachi & central Punjab. By developing new provinces, many cities will have a chance to flourish
  2. The proposed provinces do not have large population difference that currently exist between Punjab and Balochistan.
  3. Smaller provinces will help people reach the provincial capital with ease and will also ease management.

 This blog was originally published here.

Moaz Rais

Moaz Rais

An electrical engineer who writes about current affairs, history and religion.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Asif Nawaz


  • Manzoor Qadir

    Apparently you have succeeded in, floating an good idea, attracting the intelligentsia. This seems me a long lasting solution of country that is facing several problems mostly arised due to reluctant attitude of the rulers of past who did not have foresight and divide the country further on administrative grounds on time.
    God Bless YouRecommend

  • Ali ahmed

    Not Possible,
    Why we should divide Our land Balochistan, we are nation and we have oyr separate state,
    Division of Balochistan is possible only when Baloch majority areas should be separated from Pashtoon,
    Like Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi, Bolan, mastung, Kohlu, Dera Bugti should be separated from Baloch areas.Recommend

  • girl who disagrees

    Your proposal is extremely naive. A country is not a cake that you can cut up according to whichever lines you think constitute “the larger national interest”.

    Who are you to decide national interest?

    Why is it that the men and women have spent their lives capaigning for freedom know less about nationalism than you?

    I find this sort of writing distasteful in the extreme. When others talk abou provincial division they are being petty but when you talk about it you are being wise?


    Because you aren’t in the street with a banner.
    Because you’ve never met with your local representative.
    Because you deny the poilitical reality of this country and choose to call those who live by it fools.

    We are a country divided by language. This not something to ERASE but EMBRACE.

    Also: What is the source for these figures?Recommend

  • usman

    Apart from other factors, one more factor can be included i.e population & population density . Fore example population of each province should be minimum 15 million & max 20 million factoring with population density & geography. Recommend

  • Pakistan Khan

    things are not that simple. Calling Saraiki nationalism destructive sounds racist and imperialistic. Everybody has the right to decide what is good for them. It is not necessary that your so-called “National Interest” also serves the interests of other people in society. Demanding rights is not against “National Interest”. On the other hand division of Pakistan on the basis other than ethno-cultural identities can be destructive. Our neighbour India realized this fact right after Independence and redefined its states on the basis of ethno-cultural identities. While we are still trapped in so-called ” National Interest” syndrome. Lastly, you don’t have any right to call any movement “Destructive For Nation” just because it does not serves your interests. If we want Pakistan a stable country, then we have to accept the demands of oppressed ethno-cultural groups like Saraikis and Hazaras. It would be of great help if you would take some time and visit Saraiki areas which are trapped in abject poverty. Recommend

  • Omair Ali

    Though i enjoy reading your each blog but this one is really worth reading just hang on, good time is coming, its just a blink away now.Recommend

  • Whats in the name anyway

    Dont know if the authors wish fruitfiy’s. But I would wish to appreciate the passasion with which he has written the article. Good Going. Also one question pricks my conscience. When pakistan itself is dilly dallying to create more proviences within the fedral frame work. Dont you feel it is unfair to ask india to gift there geographical land to pakistan. Transfering from one country to the other. I find this strange. I had read this some where ” rules are never discriminatory as long as it is applied equally to all”
    I would want some body to correct me if I am wrongRecommend

  • an intelligent guy who disagrees with the girl who disagrees

    “girl: I find this sort of writing distasteful in the extreme. When others talk abou provincial division they are being petty but when you talk about it you are being wise?”

    Either your reading comprehension is rusty or you are biased and irrational.

    The author is clearly not being petty because he has given logical viable reasoning for his suggestions. The people, whom he have legitimately criticized, have not given logical rational reasons for forming their own version of provinces which is based on pathetic tribalism and linguistic differences.

    So yes, I arrogantly say that irrationality and illiteracy is petty. I arrogantly say that I can decide when one is being irrational then one is being “petty.” Recommend

  • Ks

    Yes, and make Karachi Jinnahpur too please.Recommend

  • Azim Pervaiz

    So that GHQ meeting wen’t well eh :)Recommend

  • Balach

    Our Balochistan already saprate state before 1948. D.G.Khan,D.I.Khan,Kashmoor,Jacob Abad are also part of Balochistan.Recommend

  • Moiz

    I find this hinting towards intelligence, but not completely. Where is the solution to ethnic nationalism? Since when has solving an issue become actually not solving the issue? People ARE ethnically divided in Pakistan and that is represented in our politics as well, be it good or bad. How do you solve or avenge that? Moreover, nowhere has this article touched upon how the political representation in these wishful “new”provinces is going to emerge or else react. For us, in Hazara, not only is the wish for a new province based upon linguistics and ethnicity, it also represents not being under the ANP. Why would be martyr more than 10 youth and then go under Mardan as a capital, that too a stronghold of ANP?Recommend

  • moaz

    @Ali ahmed:

    If a land (home land) is governed by 2 C.M.s instead of 1 C.M. doesnt mean that the land is divided. That means better access to the provincial head quarter and better management. In Afghanistan baloch people do not have just one province. They are in Nimroz, Hilmend and Kandhar. If the same thing happens in Pakistan then why this is not acceptable. There are more Baloch in Punjab then in Baluchistan. Chakar-e-Azam the legendary Baluch leader is burried in Sahiwal district (Punjab). Population wise the biggest Baloch city in the world in Karachi (Sindh). .

    Now come to the article……
    The only P.M. from Balichistan Mir Zafar Ullah Khan JAMALI ( Baloch by ethinicity) himself proposed to give the status of provinces to all divisions of 1970. At that time Baluchistan had 2 divisons Quetta and Kalat, and in this article the proposed Bolan and Makeran provinces have nearly the same boundaries of then divisions.Recommend

  • moaz

    @Pakistan Khan:

    If Punjab is divided administratively instead of linguistically, would that harm southern Punjab regarding poverty and basic needs??????. Recommend

  • moaz

    @girl who disagrees:

    Figures are from 1998 census, and they are interpolated for the dateRecommend

  • moaz

    Those who r giving examples of India must understand that only south india and partly east india was divided on linguistic grounds. and NEHRU was NOT in favour of that either.

    Bengali language is spoken by majority in West Bengal, Tripura and Southern Assam. Similarly Bihari language is spoken by majoity in Jharkhand and Eastern UP besides Bihar.
    Rajasthani language is spoken in West Madhya Pradesh and Southern Haryana besides Rajasthan.Recommend

  • Afaaq

    Appreciate the effort put into getting all the data together and writing this article. I for one am all for more provinces. Not just 12 but 20. The smaller we have the corridors of power, the more probable is the handing of of justice and governance. Plus provinces should be a bit based on the number of people based in it. Having one province with 30 million and one with 1 million doesn’t make too much sense. Great effort, hopefully some sanity will prevail and we can get over this absurd demarcation of four provinces which make no logistical sense …Recommend

  • @girl who disagrees:
    stay in the kitchenRecommend

  • Anon

    A nicely written article reflecting the pain the author has taken in doing research before penning it down. We need more articles of these sorts where people come up with solutions which could be debated upon.
    My question for the author or anyone who read it would be regarding the consistent education plan that could be chalked under this heterogeneous arrangement. What I notice is that every province creation has been influenced by the commonality of language spoken. Under this plan how could be education standardized. I strongly feel that the imbalance in Pakistan is due to variation in education standards among different provinces. Creating more provinces would exacerbate this issue. Does anyone have a solution to this.Recommend

  • Qaisrani

    @Author.I d’not know what kind of problem do you people have with Saraikis who are most peace loving people.Whenever they ask for Saraikistan, people come up with such naive ideas.Should they live in status quo,every thing is OK then.Why we are afraid of people giving their identity based upon their language,culture,history etc.

    Had Saraikis been half political as much as Sindhis and Half more violent as much as any other ethnicity residing in Pakistan,they would have been given their rights decades before.So onus lies upon Saraikis themselves for being so oppressed.

    Say no to all such formulas.Long live Saraikistan and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    @girl who disagrees:
    Why is this something to embrace?Recommend

  • insaaf

    Karachi should be made the federal capital.Recommend

  • Baloch Student

    The Baloch nation wan’t their lands to be united as it was before the British invasion in 1840. Which means: Dera Ghazi khan, Dera Jat (Jacob abad) must be part of Balochistan. The Baloch don’t want to be a minority in their own land. The real threat to the Baloch today is the demographic one, they are going to be a small minority, which of course can demand nothing. Balochistan will be another America or Canada or Austeralia for the Punjabis. I have no idea why these poor Baloch (dar pa dar: from a Diaspora to the other) looking for cheep paid jobs, while they can be the masters of ridiculous amount of wealth!Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    People tend to get needlessly melodramatic about this issue.

    We’re not breaking into separate countries – we’re just rearranging the provincial lines to form smaller, more easily manageable regions. Each region can be governed according to its own cultural needs, without constantly being shot down by the larger groups they normally get stuck with.

    Central control would still be there to ensure that the provincial authorities do not make decisions that go too far against national interest.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Why is Khorasan province ( grey colour ) split in two ??
    I think the concept and reasoning provided is worth debate.
    If our neighbour India after ’47 created many new provinces successfully, this shows that it can in fact be done, what is needed is the will to what is right for the country. Recommend

  • Nazir Ahmed

    Forming more provinces on present pattern will increase the number of law makers. This parasite class is already too large deveouring resources at the cost of welfare of common man. There is need to form about thirty provinces sans assemblies. These provinces named after principal cities are headed by governors with limited well defined role of supporting the district governments in maintaining law and order and provision of justice. Actual governace is at the local level. Hold local government elections and make these govermnets effective by removing anomlies. Anyone interested to find more can contact me on [email protected] Recommend

  • khizar

    Not agreed,we only want hazara province at any cost……………………Recommend

  • A Mega intelligent who agrees with an intelligent guy who disagrees with the girl who disagrees

    These provinces Are great Idea which will develop our cities and need for more provinces is necessary to ensure that the discrimination like lahore with seraiki people is doing will end.Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed

    People are so divided in ethnicity that they are not ready to listen any logical proposal.Recommend

  • Sajid

    Naivete. Now, let’s make a river into Balochistan extending from Indus.


    It will help turn a vast part of useless land into arid highly productive fertile crop fields. It will begin a new era of economic prosperity.
    We can use boats to transport crop from these fields to Gawadar port.

    And, by the way, if the revenue from Bhasha goes to whatever chunk of KP that you want it to go to, we in the Karakurum will “disturb” the situation. Bhasha dam, which is actually Diamer dam, is located 95% inside Gilgit-Baltistan (Karakurum), why should the revenue go to the 5%? Recommend

  • pakipatriot

    revenue issues regarding Diamir Bhasha dam were already settled down b/w then NWFP, Northern Area representatives and Federal Government at the time the project was announced during Musharraf era.

    Though it was satiric remark from u regarding Baluchistan, During Musharraf regime Kachi canal was planned as flood canal for Baluchistan’s semi-arid planar districts to booost the economy of the province.Recommend

  • pakipatriot

    @Baloch Student:

    Most of the Baloch Nationalists were part of PONAM (Pakistan oppresses Nations movement). Never of them demanded Jacobabad and DG khan to be transferred to Baluchistan. Brahamdakh Bugti ( secessionist) in his interview said that he demamds present day Baluchistan’s Baloch territory not DG Khan and Rajanpur because he thinks that these districts psyche has become punjabized.
    When all the leaders from the province (federationists, regionalists and secessionists) are not demanding that way, why u r demanding on behalf of the whole Baloch nation. Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    Good initiative. But who will bell the cat ? Anyways being a proud Indian Punjabi, the end of punjab province will make me sad. But what to expect since Punjabi as a written language has been decimated in west punjab. The end of punjab as a province would be a natural occurance of misplaced notion of Urdu being paramount and Punjabi deemed as inferior. Punjab may die as a province there but long live punjabiat. Sat Sri akal, salam, peace. CheerioRecommend

  • Aniqah

    I think this is a very well researched article. We can always debate upon certain aspects but division of provinces has been the need of Pakistan since 1947. Serious efforts like this one should be invested instead of lame statements politicians make just before elections. Recommend

  • Xim


  • Rehan Ali

    Why don’t we get rid of the existing provincial set ups and restore local body governance. Let there be no linguistic or racial baseline for our divisions as almost all the major cities are nitrogenous.
    It makes sense that people be given power to conduct the business for their alleys, hospitals and schools.

    Secondly, and more importantly, your logic lacks consistency. You claim to have taken geography into account but when you come southwards you simply cuts a half. Keeping with your logic it would have been nice if you had kept Thar, Umerkot, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas as a province, Badin, Thatta, Tando Allahyar and Tando Muhammad Khan as another and so on. Recommend

  • haider raza

    we condemn that news of dividing sindh like a cake, Recommend

  • Ehsen Naveed

    Hazara Province has become the voice of majority of Pakistanis living in Hazara, based on administrative division we seek this matter to be solved, the writer must consider the mandate of 10million Pakistanis based here who did history’s major strike in favour of getting equal rights by demanding a province for better administration.Recommend

  • Ahmed Ilyas Cheema

    Great Idea ………………………… I congratulate you for your creative thinking Recommend